Democrats and Republicans have struck a tentative deal on the so-called Fiscal Cliff — heading off the devastating combination of tax hikes and spending cuts set to automatically take effect on New Year's Day.
The deal on the table blocks the tax hike for middle class Americans, raises taxes (to 39.6 percent) for households making more than $450,000 a year, raises the capital gains taxes for the wealthy from 15 percent to 20 percent — but fails to address the automatic spending cuts.
President Barack Obama held a press conference beginning at 1:45 p.m. EST today as the deadline approached.
"Today, it a appears that an agreement to prevent this New Year's tax hike is within sight ... we're hopeful Congress can get it done, but it's not done," the president said.
He said the deal on the table will ask the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans to pay more taxes, while extending tuition tax credits, credits for clean energy companies, and unemployment insurance.
He said the main purpose of his speech is to put pressure on Congress to pass the emergency deal on the table. He said the immediate priority is to block the tax hike for most Americans. Though he had hoped for a "grand bargain" that would adequately address debt reduction, he'll now work in steps:
If we're going to be serious about debt reduction, it's going to be through shared sacrifice.